More on iPads in the classroom

Another report on experimentation with iPads

Have posted before on the use of iPads on campus and for teaching and learning. An article in the Chronicle reports on some recent experiments involving iPad use in the classroom.

Pepperdine University, for example, has been experimenting in a few courses, where some students are given iPads loaded with reading materials and applications, and others stick with laptops and traditional printed books. The initial findings show that iPads increase engagement and collaboration, acting as a facilitator for more easily sharing information, rather than the clunky barrier that a laptop can sometimes be in a group setting.

When observing classrooms with and without iPads, the difference ranged from barely noticeable to a stark contrast, said Dana K. Hoover, assistant CIO for communications and planning at Pepperdine. The most noticeable difference was how students in the iPad classes moved around the classroom more and seemed to be more engaged in the material.

“The goal is specifically to see if the iPad has the potential to impact student performance on learning outcomes in the classroom,” says Ms. Hoover. “Our secondary goal is to see if we can produce some sort of formula for success.”

The study, which began last fall, is now in its third and final semester and is in the data-collection phase. At the conference, Ms. Hoover and a colleague will be presenting some of the preliminary results from their study. The main findings they will discuss, which they did not have when Ms. Hoover was interviewed, will be results from a quiz comparing students in sections with and without iPads.

So, some mixed results, and not entirely clear that they answer these 10 essential questions to ask when designing a teaching and learning techonology project, but interesting nevertheless. I do think that part of this is perhaps wishful thinking – we all think iPads should be really useful in educational settings, but it’s just a bit hard to decide what to do when we have the solution to an as yet unidentified problem.

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